Chris, I was struck by your description of performing Wabash from the band side of things. We're all more attuned to the student and/or alumni side of things, so we saw you guys a lot differently than you saw yourselves, obviously. In your time in the band, did you have any on-field halftime moments that really stand out?
CPW: Funny that you should throw in the halftime caveat. I'm not sure if that was intentional, but it is certainly limiting. The biggest moments that I can remember tend to be pregame (probably due to repetition: the outliers stand out). We once had a drum major collide with a Tenor-saxophone while crossing for Wabash, and of course there was the 2003 CCG pregame scuffle with the OU football team.
For halftime, though, I would have to say that the biggest moment was the 2004 game in Lawrence. KU used to have the reputation as the best band program in the state. They used to win a bunch of national awards and their entire band receives a stipend for being in band (only section leaders get this at K-State). That game we had a pretty fun and difficult show based on the music from the Pirates of the Caribbean, with almost constant movement and challenging music in every section.
We took the field at half-time to boos and jeers from the KU fans (as was to be expected) but when we finished there was nothing but the sound of applause. I wish I could say that the football team was inspired by our performance and went on to defeat the upstart Manginos, but alas, it was not meant to be.
After that perception of the program turned, and now K-State is viewed definitively as the best band program in the state and one of the better ones nationally.
JFM: Well, we ARE better than them at everything, right? (Pretend the round orange elephant in the room is a gnat.)
Only time I was ever part of anything on the field was getting maced by a wild and crazed Chet Peters when we stormed the field after the 1984 win over the Jayhawks. It was like Dean Wormer from Animal House suddenly snapping, and although it's sort of been lost to history, his actions really helped propel the infamous riot in Aggieville afterward. (No, I wasn't part of that mess. Honest. After getting maced, I wasn't in the mood to party.) But let's not dwell on that. Back to 2003: I was stuck in Virginia for that and missed it. You were there, and you were actually part of the festivities. What was that like?
CPW: First I have to say am I slightly jealous that you got to storm the field. That jealousy is mitigated by the macing; I wouldn't care to partake in that experience. I was still in the band in 2006 so I missed the chance to storm the field then when we beat UT, and, really, I would prefer our program stay at a level that precludes storming the field.
2003 was magical. I still get teary-eyed when I hear/watch that Stand Up video. Since I was oblivious to college football prior to my enrollment at K-State I missed out on Nebraska in '98 (though I do have a lot of retroactive memories of that year) and for me this is my greatest K-State memory, just ahead of rushing the court after finally beating that gnatephant for the first time in forever. I remember reading our obituary a week before the game was even played. Nobody gave us a chance (save a lone Collegian writer who predicted the KSU upset and was very close on the spread). My dad even called me to wish us good luck on the morning of the game in the tone of voice you reserve for people diagnosed with Stage IV Lung Cancer. But I believed. We had to break out the band ponchos because it was so cold and even then I was shivering during warm-ups. You had to keep your mouthpiece in your hand because nothing kills your chops (your lips/ability to play a note) faster than an ice-cold piece of metal.
For pregame we were slated to go first and were lined up waiting for the signal to take the field. The TV execs gave us the go-ahead but the OU players were still on the field in the far end-zone, so Dr. Tracz held-off. That prompted an outburst from the TV people who told him that if we didn't take the field right away we would be cut. So, we started pre-game and marched down the field, straight at the OU players who refused to move.
The front line of the band as we go down the field is composed almost entirely of Classy Cats and Piccolos; basically short and non-imposing women. They were first into the breach, and there really is nothing like seeing a bunch of Piccolos getting pushed around by 250+ lb football players to get the blood flowing. Bob Stoops yelled obscenities at our band director (something about his mom) and thus was cemented my lifelong hatred of all things Stoops/Sooner.
Now, I'm not saying that the incident necessarily caused our team to play above their heads in order to avenge us, but it is fun to think it had an impact. All I know is that I was not cold the rest of that game.
JFM: Obviously, the band got Oklahoma flustered and led to their performance that night. I'm going to go ahead and give you guys credit for the conference title that year.
A lot of our connection to the old alma mater does rest on athletics and organized extra-cirriculars, but obviously there's far more to it than that. Hell, for someone like me who attended K-State in the dark years, my connection to the school itself is far more about things which had nothing to do with athletics at all -- and if that weren't the case, I might not be so loyal to the Wildcats now, even with 20 years of winning to keep my cold black heart comfortable at night. Is there anything about your time in Manhattan that really stands out and cements your loyalty to the school?
CPW: Plenty. I had many great times with fellow students, and even some good ones with my professors. Hell, even the administration was downright friendly at times.
Probably the most entertaining memory that I can think of dates back to my Freshman year. A friend of mine had found an open door that led to the roof of Hale Library. My group of friends, the wild, crazy bunch that we were, decided that it would be a great idea to camp out up there one night and hang a pirate flag from the roof in the morning. So we snuck up there with our sleeping bags, games and textbooks (some people never stop studying). We quickly find that camping on the roof of Hale at the end of October (it would snow the next morning) is not as fun or exciting as it sounds. So we start scouting around in the maze of hallways we found on our way up top (minus two of us who need to get up early and go to sleep).
We pass by some blinking servers and find another open door, which leads to a break room. Well, we're all cold (and extremely stupid, I might add), so we decide to make ourselves some coffee. As it's brewing, the other door suddenly opens and reveals a rather startled and bewildered security guard. We stare at each other for a while before he finally gets around to asking questions. We somehow manage to squirm our way out of trouble without ratting out our two companions still on the roof, but this means we can't get all the stuff we carted up on the roof.
The next day we meet up with the guys we left behind and they didn't bring our stuff down, since they thought we had abandoned them and they weren't going to carry down all of our stuff for us if we were going to be such pansies. So, we try to sneak back up there, but, predictably, the way is now barred.
Since one of us (not me) had to bring their Calculus textbook on the roof, we were forced to go to the administration with our predicament. We arranged a meeting with Pat Bosco, and came clean on what we had been doing. He just laughed and took us up to the Dean of the library (don't remember his name). The Dean was in very good spirits as well, and proudly showed us the pirate flag which they had confiscated and was now hanging in their break room. We were not allowed to repossess the flag. We did get all of our supplies back though and did not receive any punitive action; just an admonishment not to do it again.
That's why to this day I don't join in on Bosco-bashing, because despite the grotesque Pat Bosco Clock Tower in the Pat Bosco Student Plaza he was a pretty cool guy to me and my friends.
JFM: That's a better story than the time we planned a floor party and accidentally had it on restricted state property. But the less said about that, the better. And if Chet Peters had been VP-Student Affairs, y'all might have had to walk the plank, so a much better ending too.
Chris, this has been fun. Thanks for sharing your memories with us, and good luck.